I love Hostas: the way they lie in wait, dormant under the soil, then spring from the ground, leaping towards a majestic, arching form! I love their huge, glossy leaves; their myriad shades of colour and their end of season spiky, floral finale! Unfortunately for both me and the Hostas, the slugs absolutely love them too!
Seeing a beautiful Hosta ravaged and devoured by the slug brigade almost puts me off growing Hostas. I considered digging them up and binning them such was my heartbreak at their enviable fate but compared to the joy they bring me, I decided to take arms against the slug invader and defend my beautiful Hostas. I now take a 4-pronged line of defence.
The first line of defence is to dig over the soil in Spring and to take out any little white eggs that emerges as the soil turn. Even if I can only find a few, it is an effective start.
The second strategy in the slug attack plan involves watering nematodes (more info coming soon on how to do this) into the soil. This is a time-consuming task but the process adds tiny microbes to the soil which work by attacking the slugs underground. It lasts for around 6 weeks but I figure if you get it on early enough in the Spring, it will reduce the multiplying slug army.
Thirdly, I scatter crushed eggshells around the base of the Hostas – this is supposed to be an uncomfortable surface for slugs to crawl over. I save eggshells from every egg used in our house all Winter so there’s a good supply there ready to form a slug barrier. We get our eggs locally from a friend who keeps chickens and as the eggshells eventually degrade into the ground, it adds a little, local, organic matter back into the soil.
And finally, I sink little beer traps into the soil filled with stale beer – you know the bits left in the bottom of the can or bottle. These work appaently as the slug is attracted to the smell of the beer and dives into their own little pub, only to drown in the good stuff- some would say that was a pretty good way to go!
Whether any of these methods work individually well, or even in combination against the Hosta invaders, they make me feel like at least I’m in the fight for the Hosta! And by way of accolade, last year’s Hostas were utterly majestic in form!